The Small Business (Online) Advantage

There’s Noise Out There

In today’s marketing world, there is a ton of noise. In fact, it’s estimated (on the low end) that we see about 600 advertisements daily, so it’s easy to see how small businesses can be dismayed at their chances. Small businesses simply don’t have the means to go up against big businesses with big marketing budgets. You can only dream about buying an ad at a prime-time slot, never mind forking over the cash for a whole super bowl commercial. So what’s a business to do?

The Small Business Competitive Advantage

Easy, it’s time to do what small businesses do best — know their customers. It’s the one HUGE advantage that small businesses have over their large business counterparts. Customers of SMB shops like the personal touch they get. They like knowing that they’re supporting locals, and they like having the ability to interact with the business on more than a business level, but on a personal level as well. But small businesses must realize this advantage and advance it even further.

By most all accounts, the internet has leveled the playing field. Yet most small businesses refuse to step up and play the game. The web was made for easy communication of information and small businesses, more than anyone are to gain from this. No longer do you need to PUSH your information out on people to get results, but your customers are coming looking for you. And if they’re not looking for you exactly, they’re talking about you and talking is what gives small business its competitive leap over the other guys.

Build Out Your Advantage

Having a website is only the first step to being a social butterfly as it allows others to find you. People are now looking to PULL your information from the web and putting your own website up is a way for you to talk to your customers without seeing them face-to-face. A website is a great first impression and its critical to look like you’re a pro not only at what you do, but that you’re a pro at keeping your business nice and tidy. That means having an up-to-date website that doesn’t look like it was made in the 1800’s is critical to success!

Sometimes I swear that social media was invented for small businesses. It’s the natural extension of local chatter — the differentiating factor for local small businesses. Instead of needing people to come to your storefront in order to chat with them, social media allows any business to become an active participant in the conversation and to interact with their clients, or potential clients, without having them step foot in the door.

Keeping a steady conversation will allow businesses of all sizes to generate future leads as well as secure the long-term value of the customer. Customer aquisition costs are high, but maintaining customer relationships in a social manner ensures that customers won’t as easily leave. The web gives you a greater opportunity to right your wrongs and really hear what your customers are saying about you. This is powerful information that, when used correctly, can directly impact the bottom line of small businesses.

It Can’t Hurt to Try

And as your mother said, it can’t hurt to try it once. The social web is a natural extension of the offline world, and small businesses need to step up and realize the opportunities they are missing. Whether you haven’t started or are just tinkering in this social web thing, it’s time to jump in feet first. You’re already way far behind! In the next couple of years, mobile interaction will be taking the marketing world by storm (it already is). So catch up to today’s market opportunities, before it’s too late!

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David is an avid social entrepreneur and Boston sports fanatic. He founded Diversified Data Technologies way back in 2009 and stuck around to see it grow. His party quarks include unnecessary dancing and being an overly hospitable host. When looking, he can be found capturing the twitterverse at @DLanphear, being professional on LinkedIn, or bouncing around town with Foursquare.

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